Disrupting Craft: Renwick Invitational 2018 features four remarkable artists who challenge the conventional definitions of craft, imbuing it with a renewed sense of emotional purpose, inclusiveness, and activism. Tanya Aguiñiga transforms natural materials into textiles, furniture, and more that reveal raw personal narratives and universal feelings of vulnerability, often using collaborative ways to connect communities and provoke dialogue. Sharif Bey, who is constantly reinventing his artistic process to interweave his roles as educator, father, and ceramicist, explores complex cultural identities with works ranging from the utilitarian to the sculptural and purely abstract. Dustin Farnsworth manipulates wood into haunting storylines that inhabit intricately detailed portraits of today’s youth, shedding light on those inheriting societal and economic decay. Stephanie Syjuco uses social practice and the tropes of craft to challenge our perceptions of “types” in contemporary America, uncovering complicated and contradictory ways we understand our identity and nationhood.
Throughout the essays, authors Abraham Thomas, Annie Carlano, and Sarah Archer examine how each artist has used their chosen media to contribute beyond the confines of the art world.
Begun in 2000, the Renwick Invitational is a biennial series designed to celebrate artists deserving of wider recognition. Disrupting Craft is the eighth installment in the series. Other titles in the Renwick Invitational series include Visions and Revisions (2016).
The accompanying exhibition Disrupting Craft will on view at the Renwick Gallery, Washington DC, until May 5, 2019.
Abraham Thomas is the Fleur and Charles Bresler Curator-In-Charge for the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Sarah Archer is an independent curator, writer, and contributing editor for the American Craft Council journal.
Annie Carlano is Senior Curator of Craft, Design & Fashion at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina.